Seneca was born in Spain of a wealthy Italian family. His father, Lucius Annaeus Seneca (see Vol. 4), wrote the well-known Controversaie (Controversies) and Suasoriae (Persuasions), which are collections of arguments used in rhetorical training, and his nephew Lucan was the epic poet of the civil war. Educated in rhetoric and philosophy in Rome, he found the Stoic doctrine especially compatible. The younger Seneca became famous as an orator but was exiled by the Emperor Claudius. He was recalled by the Empress Agrippina to become the tutor of her son, the young Nero. After the first five years of Nero's reign, Agrippina was murdered and three years later Octavia, Nero's wife, was exiled. Seneca retired as much as possible from public life and devoted himself to philosophy, writing many treatises at this time. But in 65 he was accused of conspiracy and, by imperial order, committed suicide by opening his veins. He was a Stoic philosopher and met his death with Stoic calm. Seneca's grisly tragedies fascinated the Renaissance and have been successfully performed in recent years. All ten tragedies are believed genuine, with the exception of Octavia, which is now considered to be by a later writer. Translations of the tragedies influenced English dramatists such as Jonson (see Vol. 1), Marlowe (see Vol. 1), and Shakespeare (see Vol. 1), who all imitated Seneca's scenes of horror and his characters---the ghost, nurse, and villain.
Author's (Mark Ahavel) Biography The author was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1963 in a Roman Catholic hospital during the middle of Vatican II (1962-'64). And his exact birthday coincides with the day that the prophet Muhammad completed is Hijrah (migration) to Medina, according to Muslim tradition, a significant event in the life of the Prophet for Muslims. In 1963, the Baha'i Faith celebrated their 100th anniversary and they established their International House of Justice on Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel. From the year and the date of the author's birth, one can certainly find ecumenical and interfaith significance, perhaps a portent of his destiny. The author was baptized as an infant in a Roman Catholic parish, and was raised in a Protestant congregation and its parochial school from kindergarten to the 5th grade. These were faith-formative years for the author, raised in a Christian tradition. He felt the Call to the Ministry during his first two years of college but it was unclear what kind of ministry God was wooing him to. He completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education at a private Christian liberal arts college of his denomination by the end of 1985. He was in the seminary from 1990 to 1994, earning his Masters of Divinity degree in May 1994. He served five years in the pastoral ministry in a conservative Christian body. He was sensing God was leading him to a more ecumenical ministry. His ecumenical ministry began through creating and managing a global online prayer site In 2009, the same year, he began teaching the World Religions course at the community college as an Adjunct Instructor. The teaching of this broad course stretched his own understanding tremendously and he intensified his research in the world's religions, beyond the Judeo-Christian foundation of which he was most acquainted. He is a member in the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature.